Open Innovation — Renewable Energy

Borusan EnBW — Open Innovation Analysis

Renewable energy is a vertical with all sorts of sources of barriers to entry. Economies of scale, capital requirements, access to distribution channels, switching costs are just a few of the barriers I can list.

Yet, it is already being transformed by startups and tech SMEs' product/service offers or patents.

This article is about how we collaboratively designed and executed an international corporate innovation program and our findings.

Borusan Energy & EnBW AG

In 2009 Borusan Energy and EnBW AG, formed a strategic partnership in the Turkish ecosystem. By that time, EnBW AG, was the 3rd biggest energy company in Germany.

The partnership led to strategic investments in alternative energy. The partnership vision was to create a portfolio composed exclusively of renewable energy resources. It seemed like a dream in 2009, Turkey being dependant on international fossil energy resources.

After almost 13 years, the traction is impressive.

Borusan EnBW traction in the Turkish ecosystem

Being on the innovative side demands a sustainable open innovation strategy. That's how Workinlot started collaborating with Borusan EnBW in 2018. Our first cooperative project was the Smart Cities 2018 open innovation challenge on the Workinlot platform.

The engagement kicked off with a Q&A session between the tech entrepreneurs and Borusan EnBW representative Yalçın Altuntaş ( Strategy and business development manager Borusan EnBW). The purpose of the Q&A session was to clearly communicate, what Borusan EnBW is demanding to source from the tech ecosystem and what type of solutions were out of scope or already in the pipeline.

Borusan EnBW open innovation sprint — Q&A session at KWORKS

One of the possible collaboration areas was P2P infrastructure for energy trade. Due to its nature, such a complex project required co-creation. By the end of the sprint, Borusan EnBW was matched with Blok-Z, a Greentech blockchain startup.

Blok-Z — Enabling Innovative Digital Services For Energy Companies —

The main gain out of this engagement, exploring a disruptive business model in a new market while derisking the effort via startup collaboration. The learning curve for the startup and the corporation was exponential.

By the end of 2019, Borusan EnBW satisfied with the level of talent from the Turkish ecosystem; wanted to run an exclusive corporate open innovation program. But in order to run such a program, we needed Borusan EnBW teams to internalize the startup-corporate engagement loop we designed uniquely for the company. Conducting a workshop, with the attendance of all business unit leaders and entrepreneurs, was our first collective initiative.

The program would consist of separate sprints, to identify talent in separate focus areas.

First focus area, Remote Maintenance, and Operation of Wind Turbines. The sprint took 2 months to scout and another 3 months to assess and accelerate the talent to engage with Borusan EnBW. Second focal area, Energy Storage and Battery Tech.

By March 2021 Borusan EnBW program attracted 186 startups and SMEs, formulation of a 37 applicable startup cohort with detailed value offers, 5 deep dive engagements, 1 startup collaboration, and a major strategic investment to engage with the talent identified.

Borusan EnBW gave us a great opportunity to deep dive into the alternative energy tech ecosystem. Whether it be a startup or a tech SME, the level of service/product supply was impressive, on such a high-tech demand. Turkish startups and tech SMEs were already forming strategic partnerships on hardware, in markets like China.

Besides business strategy and innovation gains, the program generated substantial talent and reputation management opportunities for the corporation.

I have been doing innovation consulting for some time now. The experience allows one to notice, which corporate innovation programs are designed for reputation management focus. As we have collaboratively proven, reputation management and talent management are two likely outcomes of corporate innovation programs that target innovation & strategy gains. Not the other way around.

The strategic partnership of a German industry leader and a well-known Turkish corporation, already created its impact verified with numbers. Engaging these international powerhouses via open innovation, with talent & innovative solutions of the local tech ecosystem, ended up boosting the corporate ecosystem with tech stakeholders.

For Workinlot, the gains were diverse as well. We curated our own methodology on how corporations should engage with tech-SMEs and startups. The metrics to follow and the necessary stage-gate processes. And even inspired the multi-stakeholder ecosystem designs which engage international industry leaders with local corporations and talent.

Atilla Erel — February 2022 / Istanbul



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Workinlot corporate open innovation accelerator / Corporate ecosystem design